If the latest list of the Philippines’ richest compiled by the prestigious Forbes magazine is any indication, the rising tide that is the economy gives a better lift to wealthier ships than others.
The latest edition of Forbes’ widely anticipated—and sometimes controversial—“Philippines Rich List” showed that mall tycoon Henry Sy Sr., ranked the country’s wealthiest man for six consecutive years, boosted his net worth to $12 billion as of July, representing a $2.9-billion increase from last year’s figure.
(The full list can be found at www.forbes.com/philippines and in the latest issue of Forbes Asia.)
“A surge in the economy has lifted the wealth of the Philippines’ richest,” Forbes said in a statement. “The Philippines is among the fastest-growing economies in Asia, expanding 7.8 percent in the first quarter of 2013 on the back of strong domestic consumption.”
“The country also received an investment grade rating this year,” it added.
Top 50 worth $65.8B
According to Forbes, the top 50 wealthiest Filipinos and their families are worth a combined $65.8 billion, representing over a quarter of the value of the Philippines’ economic output.
The financial standing of Sy, 88, benefited from the country’s buoyant stock market which pushed up the value of his flagship firm, SM Investments Corp., to become the single biggest firm in terms of market value, overtaking longtime leader Philippine Long Distance Telephone Co. (PLDT).
At the same time, confidence in the business community ushered in by the Aquino administration has also prompted a surge in corporate deal making, which Sy has taken advantage of to consolidate his diverse empire of property firms under one company.
Once this merger is completed, Sy’s SM Prime Holdings Inc. will become the Philippines’ largest property developer with an estimated market value of $14 billion—not bad for a man who started selling shoes in Manila’s Escolta district many decades— and many billions of pesos—ago.
Tobacco magnate Lucio Tan maintained his position as the country’s second-richest man, with an estimated net worth of $7.5 billion this year from $4.5 billion in 2012. The $3-billion increase made him the biggest-gaining billionaire this year, edging Sy’s $2.9-billion wealth hike.
Tan’s net worth was boosted in part by a recent $920-million share sale of his flagship LT Group, the largest equity issue in Philippine history. Again, this was made possible by positive sentiments in financial markets, driven by investor confidence.
Tan, 79, recently consolidated his companies—Asia Brewery Inc. and a 50-percent stake in Philip Morris Fortune Tobacco Inc.—under the LT Group headed by his son, Michael, in what was seen as the first phase of the tycoon’s keenly watched succession plan.
Property developer Andrew Tan (no relation to Lucio) rose to third place from sixth in the Forbes ranking, doubling his wealth to $4.6 billion. The rise was attributed to the strong showing in the stock market of his Alliance Global Inc., a holding firm which also controls Emperador Brandy.
At 60, Andrew Tan has set his sights on building a casino resort complex at Pagcor Entertainment City at the edge of Manila Bay, in partnership with Malaysia’s Genting Group.
His net worth could receive further boost once he lists his Resorts World Manila under which his casino operations fall.
Ranked fourth with $4.5 billion was Enrique Razon Jr. whose International Container Terminal Services Inc. operates 28 ports in 19 countries. Razon’s newest venture is Bloomberry Resorts, which owns and operates the Solaire casino hotel complex at Pagcor Entertainment City.
Another tycoon who gained from the equity market was George Ty (ranked ninth with $2.6 billion), who added $900 million to his net worth, mainly due to the rise in value of his holding company GT Capital. He benefited from rising revenues in banking, car distribution, real estate and power operations.
A notable newcomer to the list is Ramon Ang, president of San Miguel Corp., the country’s largest conglomerate in terms of the market value of its various units. Ang debuted on the 31st spot with an estimated net worth of $260 million.
PLDT chair Manuel Pangilinan, Ang’s longtime rival in the mergers and acquisitions scene, returned to the Forbes list after many years of absence with an estimated net worth of $105 million—the minimum net worth to make this year’s list, according to Forbes.
“His net worth estimate is based on what we can prove, though sources claim he owns higher stakes than publicly known,” Forbes said.
Forbes said the list was “compiled using shareholding and financial information obtained from the families and individuals, stock exchanges, analysts and other sources.”
“Net worths are based on stock prices and exchange rates as of the close of markets on July 19. Private companies were valued based on similar companies that are publicly traded,” it added.